BrightSource Teams Up With Israeli R&D Firm to Develop Next Generation Solar Power Plants

BrightSource Energy, the developer of concentrating solar power (CSP) plants, has signed an agreement with Israel’s Yissum Research Development Company, to improve power production of utility scale solar power plants, the companies jointly .

BrightSource, launched in 2004, is based in Oakland, Calif., and backed by Google and VantagePoint Venture Partners. So far it has signed supply contracts, mostly with California utilities, for some 2,600 megawatts worth of solar electric generation capacity. The projects are based on CSP power tower technology, which uses a field of heliostats to focus the sun’s rays on a receiver at the top of a tower. Each heliostat is a flat, high-efficiency mirror mounted on a frame that reflects solar energy toward the receiver. The receiver collects the energy as heat, which is used to turn water into steam that in turn powers electricity-generating turbines.

Until recently CSP technology, especially parabolic trough technology, was the technology of choice to develop large, utility-scale solar power plants. But the falling price PVs is now convincing a number of developers to give PV panels a second look.

Yissum is in charge of commercializing the technology developed by Hebrew University‘s research labs. This morning’s release says that the two parties will work together to develop “new materials [that] may be integrated in the solar thermal power plant technology.”  It does not say what that material is.

On the agreement Yaacov Michlin, CEO of Yissum said:

Solar energy is definitely the most important, yet underutilized, clean energy source. Israel has always been a leading player in the solar energy field, and the Hebrew University is proud to collaborate with BrightSource Industries Israel in increasing the efficiency of solar thermal power plants.

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